Wildman Taler in the Brunswick Collection Künker Auction


One of the most famous Germanic coins is known colloquially as the “Wildman Taler”.

Several examples of this type of design are offered in Fritz Rudolf Künker’s March 21 Brunswick coin and medal auction.

Typical Wildman pieces show a gigantic beast, usually hairy and muscular, clad in a loincloth of leaves, with only its hands and feet bare of fur. The creature is often seen grabbing the trunk of a tree, sometimes with a city or forest in the background.

The image was influenced by pagan tradition in the Harz Mountain region of Germany, where the wild man appears in folklore and other art forms, not exclusively on coinage.

The Harz was an important silver-producing region and the images refer to the mining town of Wildemann and the legend of its founding. According to the story, in 1529, miners sent to search for new ore deposits discovered a wild man who was living with a wild woman. They captured him, but he died from his injuries. Large deposits of silver ore are said to have been discovered where he had lived.

The wild man, according to German coins, from Charlemagne to William II by William D. Craig, was the medieval European equivalent of the American Bigfoot or Sasquatch. The legend of a demonic “Wildman” can be found even in Sir Walter Scott. Antique dealer of 1816.

“Virtually all wildman coins were minted at Zellerfeld in the Harz”, according to Craig, “therefore the device doubles as a mint mark.”

One of the highlights of the auction by Wildman is the 1605 silver double reichstaler (57.48 grams) struck for Heinrich Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. In very good condition, the piece has an estimate of €2,000 (US$2,216).

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